Monday, April 30, 2012

INCARNATE Discussion!

For our first book discussion we'll be discussing INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows and repped by Lauren MacLeod. 

Remember that we are discussing it in terms of it being agent-worthy and what we can learn from it to become better writers, but also please feel free to discuss your overall feelings for the book. PLEASE be professional with your comments whether good or bad while having fun, too!  (Gushing and swooning are allowed.:)

I thought I would share my thoughts in the comments as the day progresses. But stuff like this...

Low notes came long and round, deep and mysterious. High notes sang like sylph. If I was honest, it was music of my fears. Shadows made of fire, drowning in a lake, and death without reincarnation. Giving those fears up to music--that helped. 

...yeah. I think you get it. Beautiful.

So, if you've read INCARNATE, what did you think? And what do you think it was that might have snagged Jodi an awesome agent like Lauren?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Query Critique Info

The queries below titled "Query Crit #_" are for a small query critique session we're having for those who had the guts to enter the Writer Spotlight search I had for my twitter followers but were unfortunately not chosen.

For those whose queries are being critiqued, please critique at least 3 others. And feel free to disclose your identities. 

Everyone please remember to be PROFESSIONAL during your crits!

(FYI: On Monday we will discuss Jodi Meadows' INCARNATE! So go read it!)

Thank you!

Query Crit #10

Dear Awesome Agent,

I've been following you on Twitter and saw that you represent Urban Fantasy and you like chocolate. I would like to submit my 67,000 word adult Urban Fantasy THE SHIFTING DARKNESS for your consideration.

For twenty-four year old, Sidney Lake, hunting down the monsters of NYC is as commonplace as buying a cup of coffee and the morning newspaper from the cart on the corner. 

When a strange corpse is found on an abandoned subway platform and a board member conjures a demon he can’t control, it’s Sidney’s job to keep those caffeinated New Yorkers focused on their morning crossword puzzle instead of what’s going on around them.

In the process of investigating the origins of the John Doe from the subway platform, Sidney gets attacked by two creatures that are supposed to have been extinct for centuries. Before she can manage to put a bullet through its head, one of the creatures sinks its teeth into her shoulder. Sidney wins the fight, but now her own humanity is called into question.

She turns to her boss, mentor, and sometimes lover, Mitch Harris for help and comfort. Mitch doesn’t have the answers, but he knows someone who might. Mr. Dimitrius has information about what and who Sidney is, but it’s vastly different from anything she could have imagined. 

I believe that the owner of your local bookstore might recommend THE SHIFTING DARKNESS to someone who enjoys a gory procedural mystery like Chelsea Cain's Gretchen Lowell series with a twist of the paranormal, like Laurell K. Hamilton writes.

Query Crit #9

Dear Awesome Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Clementine wants to grow old and live in a place where the moon is a beautiful, glowing orb in the sky instead of an acid-bleeding menace to the planet. So when she wins a shot at life far from the planet surface, she takes it willingly, even if it means leaving her best friend, Logan, behind.

In the planet core, which after centuries has been transformed into a steel-made place of inhabitance more like a space ship, Clementine lives, for the first time, without fear. Underground, there is no starvation, there are no crowbar-wielding security officials, and the moon is far enough away that no one speaks of it.

Then Clementine learns the planet leaders are going to murder Logan.

Now trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan. But the planet leaders don't want her running. They want her subdued.

Complete at 73,000 words, EXTRACTION is a science fiction novel for young adults that will appeal to readers of Veronica Roth's DIVERGENT and Beth Revis's ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

Query Crit #8

Dear Awesome Agent,

When Ryan Gaunt's seemingly perfect older brother kills himself, Ryan has to piece together why— and prevent a moment that could spark another teen's suicide.

To Ryan, Tyler was perfect. After all, he had a full ride to Princeton, girls throwing themselves all over him, and an overall shiny, happy life. So when Ryan comes home to find his brother hanging from a noose, he's as shocked as he is grief-stricken.

Ryan discovers Tyler's journal and is surprised to find the entries addressed to him. Conservative, church-going Ryan pieces together that Tyler was in love with his best friend— his male best friend— and the already broken pieces of his world crumble.

Meanwhile, flamboyant outcast Bryant Wilson is invited to an exclusive in-crowd party. Ryan is nonplussed— when he drop-kicked Bryant out of the closet years ago, Bryant fell from the top of the social ladder to the bottom rung. When Ryan discovers the ulterior motives for Bryant's invitation and the plans to humiliate the boy in front of the entire school, he has to make a decision. He can risk his social status for a kid he despises or live with the guilt of not standing up for the tortured boy who Tyler asked him to protect.

BROTHERS, a 55k word contemporary YA, will appeal to fans of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST.

Query Crit #7

Dear Awesome Agent,

When a renegade Were’s misuse of magic threatens folk and mortal alike, Warder Trainee Mona Lisa Kubrek must find out who is causing the damage, why he has picked certain targets and what he hopes to gain all while still learning and coming into her abilities as a uniquely non-magic wielding member of the folk community.

Mona Lisa Kubrek’s life turns upside down when her best friend from high school calls her. Meeting her friend and seeing the magic workings set upon the pregnant woman, Mona cannot help but use her Warder ability to manipulate the spell's settings, despite the fact that her training master has told her she’s not to alter workings without his permission. Her friend is just the tip of the iceberg as Mona finds more harmful spells, as well as Weres manipulated by them, at every turn. After surviving a magically induced bridge collapse Mona meets Protector Josiah Carthage ‘Cart’ Dupree, called in by the area's Folk leaders to assess the situation. As they investigate further she realizes there’s a pattern to the renegade’s madness and her life is at risk along with most of the Buffalo(NY) Were pack. Tasked with finding the culprit Mona's increasing closeness to Cart becomes problematical as she discovers why Warders earned their name.

Warder is a 105k contemporary fantasy romance, the first in an anticipated seven book series set in an alternate reality with a magic mythos I feel is unique.  Like many contemporary fantasy romance series, each story has a different couple as the main characters and an over-arching villainous plot tying the stories together.  Currently I have chosen to write the story with a low to moderate heat level, however I could foresee changing that if requested. I have been writing and improving my craft  around the demands of 'real life' for the past ten years, only recently venturing into submitting my work and becoming successfully published this year.

Query Crit #6

Dear Awesome Agent,

Prohibition has turned Eve Medina’s rural hometown into a center of black-market wine trade and police corruption. So when Eve kills a wealthy man, she knows it won’t matter that she’s sixteen, or that she acted in self-defense. What matters is that she’s poor, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, and she makes a living pretending to be a fortuneteller, which draws more than a few suspicious eyes. Her only chance to avoid ending up the first woman hanged in California is to get away with it.

Then Jakob Gellert, a young Hungarian immigrant who works as a magician, finds out about the murder. Desperate to learn the truth about why the state has erased all records of the only family he has in America, Jakob wants to use Eve’s knowledge of the town’s politics, prejudices, and secrets. And his reputation as an illusionist, equal parts skilled and dangerous, tells Eve he won’t hesitate to use what he knows against her if she doesn’t agree.

THE COIN DIVER, complete at 90,000 words, is set in Central California in 1927.

I’m a [redacted] Fellow, and winner of the 2012 [redacted] Award. My work is included in thirteen [redacted] anthologies, and in the young adult anthology, [redacted]. My poetry and non-fiction have appeared in [redacted] and on the [redacted] website.

Query Crit #5

Dear Awesome Agent,

In GRACEFUL DEATH, fifteen-year-old Grace thinks insomnia is her biggest problem, until she starts seeing shadow people that can’t be real. A black clad doppelganger splitting off from Raf, her best friend/secret crush, causing mischief? Yeah, so not normal. Determined to sleep and end these hallucinations, Grace accepts a joint from Raf. One puff of the joint shatters the gateway between the normal world and the spirit world, inviting the dead into her bedroom.

Blue souls surround her. Their overwhelming emotions leaching Grace’s life away. Moments before her last breath, the Grim-freaking-Reaper appears. She can either believe his oath to help and go with him or join the blue souls in death. She chooses the Grim Reaper. He whisks her away to a scary powerful Underworld demon whose plans include using Grace to transport souls. But becoming Death Jr. was never in her life plan. She may have been tricked into donning Death’s hoodie, promised a restful night’s sleep and unimaginable power, but the perks come at the cost of an innocent soul.

Overwhelmed, Grace turns to Raf and discovers he knows about her trip to the Underworld and so much more. Too bad he’s got a thing against sharing. Alone and losing her effing mind, she can no longer put off using the hoodie and stealing a soul. Revealing her life is in as much jeopardy as her victims.

GRACEFUL DEATH is a young adult paranormal novel complete at 71,000 words. My previous manuscript won the 2010 Sourcebooks Fire YALitChat writing contest and will be published as A Shimmer of Angels by Month9Books in November of 2012. I am also an active member of YALitChat.

Query Crit #4

Dear Awesome Agent,

As one of the four members of the Sciencetastic SuperGirls after-school club, 12-year-old Julia Veltman knows plenty about science, but she’s never heard of dark energy. So when a substitute teacher starts raving about it (complete with vague warnings regarding some dire event next Tuesday), she writes him off as a wackadoodle – until she discovers that dark energy actually exists. But this twitchy sub isn’t sharing everything, and the SuperGirls are determined to go all superspy to find out more.

After several elaborate plans involving dental floss, lip gloss, and an elevator in the most unexpected place, the SuperGirls discover a secret, dark energy-detecting, underground super collider, run by none other than Julia’s physicist parents. Which would be wicked awesome, if it didn’t mean that Julia’s parents have been lying to her for half her life. And not only are her parents just days away from announcing some earth-shattering discovery, but there’s an army of ninjas about to kidnap Julia in order to stop them. What the ninjas don’t know, of course, is that Julia’s not the kind of girl who will quietly sit tied up in a closet – and those other Sciencetastic SuperGirls aren’t about to let a bunch of dudes in black outfits stand between them and one of their own.

Complete at 63,000 words, SCIENCETASTIC SUPERGIRLS is a standalone middle grade novel with series potential. It has an action-packed, girl-powered mystery similar to Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series but for a younger audience. I am a member of SCBWI, and this is a multiple submission.

Query Crit #3

Dear Awesome Agent,

Daphne Chase, an 18-year-old literary prodigy and daughter of Abelard Chase -- a famous, eccentric author known as the hero of his generation -- was not afraid of the shadow lurking around her family's grounds. It had been stalking her for nearly a year now, tirelessly watching her window day after day, without food or water, without rest. She knew he was after her, and only her. She was the only one who could see it: a shadow that had found a way to stand on the ground. He was nothing more than a dark mass with a man's silhouette. Faceless. Intentions hidden. But Daphne wasn't afraid of him. At least not yet.

When Daphne goes to college to study creative writing against her father's will, the shadow follows her. She is certain she will never go back home. She wants to be a writer, write a novel and start her career away from Abelard. Despite neither calling nor answering his phone calls, Abelard manages to interfere in her life by booking a room in the Franks' Inn, a house for students who don't want to live in the dorms. Daphne, an introvert, finds herself surrounded by extroverts and the many privileges that come from living with passionate young adults. They clash daily. They are loud. Some of them love her. Some of them hate her. One of them is an old high school friend. She wants to be away of them all, allies or enemies, to concentrate on her book.

During a visit to the woods that surround the school, the shadow surprises Daphne and introduces himself as Creativity. He is the entity that has inspired both tranquility and destruction. The voice in the back of her head. The dreams she sees when asleep and awake. He says she is ready to be just as successful as her father is. He's chosen her for a deal: in exchange of her love and devotion to him, he will help her write a masterpiece. 

Under pressure, Daphne agrees on a deal with Creativity and gives him a name: Apollo. He soon takes human form, and teaches her to write words in the air. Words that change into events. It's like watching a movie from within. Daphne can give her enemies the most terrible fates, ranging from being kidnapped by bizarre bandits on horses to being crushed by giant trolls. What Daphne had not imagined, though, was that Apollo sees her stories as hints to what she actually wished to happen and uses his influence on people to change their destinies to tragedies that resemble Daphne's ideas the most. Shocked that she is to blame for their sad fate, Daphne tries to run away from the deal, but Apollo punishes her by taking away the people she loved the most. She has to choose between keeping her allegiance to him and finishing the book she dreams to write, or fighting him to keep the few people that remain in her life.

DAPHNE'S BOOK is a 100,000-word New Adult fantasy and romance mashup, a cross between Death Note and Stephen Poliakoff's Capturing Mary, and will particularly interest readers who want to read about flawed characters that are neither entirely good nor bad, or characters that are trying to reconnect with family and friends by listening to their stories, instead of selfishly focusing on themselves.

Query Crit #2

Dear Awesome Agent,

Her testimony put them in prison. Now they're out... and seeking revenge.

Wherever Amanda O'Flannigan goes, trouble follows. Soon after her testimony puts two murderers away for life, she ditches her career as a journalist in Wichita, beginning anew as a real estate investor in Kansas City. With the ink barely dry on her letters of incorporation, Amanda walks into a routine inspection... and trips over a dead body.

Would've been nice if those she helped put away had stayed behind bars. Now the two escaped cons are in Kansas City on a killing spree. And they've put Amanda in their crosshairs.

HOMEBODY is a 90,000-word mystery with series potential.

My short story "Family Reunions Are Murder" appears in the April 2012 issue of "Over My Dead Body" online mystery magazine. I'm a regular contributor to Christian Children's Book Review (, have previously served as program coordinator for my local Sisters in Crime chapter, and hold an Associates in Journalism.

Query Crit #1

Dear Awesome Agent,

Seventeen year old Sara Lobos spends every summer on her grandparents’ farm in the middle of nowhere Portugal. It’s the perfect chance to recharge, work on a few college applications, and drink tons of espresso while checking out cute guys at the local cafes. But this year, weird visions of people and places from other times keep popping up everywhere, making her question her sanity. In one of those moments, she meets the handsome but way too old-fashioned Sebastian, the strange boy in the woods who is so much more than he seems… four centuries more. His only request—to free him from the prison beyond time for which she is the only key. Because of him, she becomes wrapped up in a world of lost kings and a limbo where time stands still. But when she discovers her best friend is a part of an ancient society whose purpose is to stop her, she begins to question her destiny.

Now Sara has to decide who to trust—the boy who knows her better than anyone else on earth or the king who needs her to save him and, if he's telling the truth, the world.

THE DESIRED is a 72,000 word young adult contemporary fantasy novel with series potential. I feel that readers of who are craving more stories set in international settings, such as Die For Me or Demonglass, would enjoy this manuscript. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Our First Inspirational Story!

First, I want to clarify that there is a difference between our stories of Successful Cupid Connections and Inspirational Stories. The Cupid Connections are when one of the entries on this blog receives and accepts an offer of rep from one of our agents participating on the blog such as the one found at this link. These Inspirational Stories are simply great stories from others to offer inspiration.

For my first one I thought it would be super-dee-duper to hear from Krista from the oh-so amazing Mother.Write.Repeat blog. (She also participated in our Blind Speed Dating event during February as Entry #2.) Her blog is awesome and helps writers in numerous ways, including her monthly "An Agent's Inbox" contests and cool interviews with agents. 

If you don't already know, she's fab so I'll let her take over now...

**When Cupid asked me to share a little advice and encouragement about the querying process, my first thought was that I was the perfect person to write this post :) I queried my first manuscript in 2008, and here it is, 2012, and I’m just landing an agent, almost four years exactly after I sent my first query.

To be honest, I thought my last manuscript was going to be the One. It was the third manuscript I’d queried, so I definitely knew what I was doing, and my request rate was well over fifty percent. I received multiple revision requests and got all kinds of positive feedback, but in the end, nobody loved it enough to offer.

I was devastated, heartbroken. I’d thrown myself over the cliff, certain my parachute was finally going to open, but instead, I slammed into the pavement in full-scale freefall. The rejections hurt more because I knew how close I was.

I started querying my fourth manuscript in a weird in-between place. I felt good about the project, really good (one of my critique partners read the whole thing in one sitting, and another couldn’t wait to recommend it to her agent), but I was well aware of the fact that querying, like life, usually doesn’t turn out the way we expect it to.

And so it was with Steve. (That’s what I call him around the house, since THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME is a little more of a mouthful.) I’d imagined getting an offer within a couple of weeks from one of the fast responders I’d queried, but that didn’t happen.

As it turned out, what did happen was way better than anything I could have planned.

A few weeks ago, I signed with Kate Schafer Testerman, the agent who was literally at the top of my list, and I couldn’t be more excited. (If you’re not already sick of me, you can check out part one and part two of the story on my blog.) She’s the agent I would have picked if I could have picked anyone, and she picked me.

I’m not going to tell you to keep going, to never give up, because when you’ve been going for a while and you’re still waiting for that miracle, that’s the last thing you want anybody to tell you. Sometimes taking a step back, at least for a while, is the best thing to do, and that’s okay. But what I am going to say is that you never know when life will surprise you. We writers should know better than anyone that the best stories are the ones you don’t try to force.**

Great words! Thanks Krista!! And Congratulations to you and Kate!

Surprise Agent Invasion Wrap Up

I was gonna post this on Saturday...yeah, that didn't happen. Sorry, guys. Busy, busy weekend!

First, I want to announce the winner for the best answer on reading the slush from the CIA post from the super awesome YA Confidential...

Congratulations Alisyn!!!

(You will be emailed shortly.)

Now, let's sum up the happenings of our Surprise Agent Invasion. Not gonna lie, I was a bit nervous about this contest flopping. But I think it was a great success! It was a relief to see so many requests coming in from so many fabulous agents! I was stunned, actually. Some of the agents I'd spoken with, some of them were total surprises! Love, love, LOVE!!!

Here are the 13!! agents/editor that invaded:

John Cusick - Scott Treimel New York Agency
Laura Bradford - Bradford Literary Agency
Annie Bomke - Annie Bomke Literary Agency
Pam van Hylckama - Larsen Pomada Literary Agency
Suzie Townsend - Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation
Taylor Martindale - Full Circle Literary, LLC
Ali McDonald - The Rights Factory
Gina Panettieri (who commented on every single one-THANKS!) - Talcott Notch Literary
Nephele Tempest - The Knight Agency, Inc.
Jessica Sinsheimer - Sarah Jane Freymann Literary
Andrea Cascardi - Transatlantic Literary Agency
Carly Watters - P.S. Literary Agency
Patricia Riley (Associate Editor) - Spencer Hill Press

A ginormous THANK YOU to all of them for invading the victim entries! *applause*

Now, here is a list of all the entries that received at least one request: (A few received several!)

#31 INK (YA)
#33 I'M GAME (YA)
#35 IDYLL (YA)

Holy requests! I'm still in awe of all that sweetness! Seriously, that is A LOT of requests! And remember, a lot of those entries have several requests. A big round of applause to all of you and good luck with your submissions! (I know of at least one who has received and accepted an offer! Yay!!!) I hope everyone learned from what attracted the agents and what works well.

And thanks again to my guest CIA judges--Copil, Cristin, Karen, and Cambria-- from YA Confidential! I'd say it's pretty obvious they did a great job! And they were hilarious and did a fabulous job on that *Perfect Query Letter*!

And I want to say THANKS to EVERYONE who submitted for this contest. Please remember how subjective this all is and please try again in the future! You are all greatly appreciated!

Now for some additional inspiration get your read on here!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Perfect Query Letter!! (More from the CIA guests)

*Guaranteed to get you an agent
**Or earn you a restraining order from your agent of choice

Hi, everyone!

Recently, the YA Confidential gang had the honor of reading submissions for the Surprise Agent Invasion. Many of the chosen entries received mad love from agents, in some cases resulting in partial and full requests!

Congratulations, word miners!

As the contest wound down, Cupid was kind enough to host us in her Super Secret Literary Lair (think Batcave meets The Library of Alexandria, plus mani-pedis). While lounging on overstuffed pleather recamier's, smoking Gauloises and quaffing absinthe, we marveled at the creativity and originality of the submissions.

We did, however, notice something that made us sit upright in mid palm frond fanning. Each entry included a query letter. And while all the query letters were GOOD, they were not PERFECT.

And that's just not acceptable.

Let's be honest. There's been plenty of good advice on how to craft the perfect query letter. So it must be out there. But try as we might, we couldn't find any reference to it online. So YA Confidential and Cupid put our heads together.

That's right, we crafted a query so engaging and foolproof, there is no reason an agent should receive anything else from now on. Just sign your name at the bottom and start cashing residuals checks!

After hundreds of woman-hours (and about one-and-a-half man-hours) we humbly present to you:

The Perfect Query Letter*
*Google analytics just exploded!

Dear Sir1,

If a mysterious stranger promised you three wishes but said granting them would result in the guy of your dreams dying in a fire. . .would you do it?2

Hi, I'm Alfonse, and my author asked me to contact you.3 I'm the charming but troubled main character of an epic 850,000 word4 fiction novel5 ready to make you a bajillian dollars American6 if you will let it. The story takes place in. . .WAIT, I don't want to ruin it for you!7 Suffice to say my author has spent nine years teasing out who I am, what I do, to whom, with what, where and why. I think you'll find that his extensive knowledge of medieval armor lubricant makes him the ONLY person qualified to tell this continent-hopping story about me and some broad8 I'm destined to be with if only the Evil Ruler of the Dark Side of the Badlands doesn't destroy kind-hearted Morian Darcanus's Immortal Flame of Flamius which I need in order to forge a new Shield of Cornelius Ur'Chap!ng to replace the one that was stolen from my son Chooch T@chinak who, because of a crack in time caused by an improperly cast Tempus Fugit spell is also my brother and is being pursued by the more-evil-than-Morian-Darcanus-but-less-evil-than-The-Evil-Ruler-of-the-Dark-Side-of-the-Badlands ruler of Neo Thailand known as Siriporn Trangsangsombat; plus the three wishes stuff andbutalso I am part bat.9

Clearly this book will happily coexist with the currently popular Urban Contemporary YA titles10 you insist you don't rep at this time.11

The resultant ocean of awesome constitutes the greatest story ever told (oh, yeah, better than the Bible12)! Attached is a list of actors I think should play me in the inevitable film adaptation.13

What's that? You want to know a little about my creator? Sure. He's five foot ten, hunnert'n fiddy pounds, winner of Publish America's Best Novelists Who Paid Us Over Three Thousands Dollars but Less Than Five Thousand Dollars.14 He's also a five-time divorcée with no health insurance and twelve kids,15 all of whom LOVE THIS BOOK16 and think you're an idiot if you pass it up!17 He's never written so much as his name before now18 but he figured if that stupid vampire book can make money, it can't be that hard.19

His bank account info is attached so you can just wire the signing bonus right now.20 Where should he send his head shot for the dust jacket?

Looking forward to our first book tour,
Alfonse  T@chinak
Prince of Neo Thailand
(on behalf of Kelvin Blech - rhymes with letch)

PS: Too bad you only accept e-mail queries. My snail-mail queries get an envelope full of glitter.21


1.     Refer to agents as male because it's TOTALLY not offensive or degrading to female agents.
2.     ALWAYS start with a hypothetical which, if answered 'No,' would result in a two sentence story - shows you have balls.
3.     You spent a lot of time creating your characters. Why not let them speak for you?
4.     Generally accepted word counts are for chumps. The longer the better.
5.     This is, of course, the best kind.
6.     Jingoism NEVER goes out of style.
7.     Treat your agent like a horny male (he's never gonna buy the cow if the milk is free).
8.     Have fun with genres. This word automatically makes the story noir.
9.     Boom! You just dropped the word anvil on this agent's ass!
10.  Or whatever is popular at the time regardless of what your story is about. This is called “positioning.”
11.  Agents ALWAYS say they don't rep stuff they really want. See #7.
12.  Go big or go home.
13.  Show 'em you're a good long-term bet.
14.  Let him know you're kind of a big deal.
15.  Remind agents when time is of the essence.
16.  This is what agents refer to as “having a platform.”
17.  You can handle criticism. Can your agent?!
18.  Gotta start somewhere.
19.  Be subtle but imply you're super smart about the industry and stuff.
20.  Always behave as if the agent already said yes.
21.  This does two things: visually demonstrates the conceptual magic that is your manuscript and also makes it easy to remember who you are.

What do you think, folks?! Can you smell that? That's what genius smells like!

Our work here is done!

Now go forth, dear writers, and tell us how many bidding wars our Perfect Query Lettertm started for you!

NOTE: This letter is not at all perfect and is, in fact, a complete and utter clusterf**k. Not only will you NOT get an agent with this letter, you are likely to have computers, iPads, laptops, pens, pencils, typewriters, quills and inks taken away from you under newly enacted provisions of the Patriot Act. The idea for this came, not from the lack of quality in the queries we received but from exactly the opposite. The queries were all so good, we wondered where all the BAD query letters were. Obviously we found it. If your query letter includes anything familiar from the sample above you might want to have another go before submitting it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The CIA's Thoughts on Reading the Slush

I thought it would be cool to invite my guest judges (The CIA) from YA Confidential to offer some of their thoughts on reading through the slush. With much gratitude and joy I welcome them here today: (Expect more awesomeness from them tomorrow, too!)

Over at YA Confidential, we have a tradition. Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and every Saturday, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! ARCs, signed books, awesome books... Anything we have--you get to choose.

We are thrilled to bring our From-The-Vault question to Cupid's site today!

To enter add a comment and please make sure that your email address is linked to your comment in some way! (So we can get in touch with you :)

Today's question for our YA Confidential Judges:

What was it like to play agent-for-a-day and decide who made it past the first stage?

Cambria: Empowering. Kind of God-like. Or maybe Donald Trump-like. You're fired!!!! Or wait -- OPRAH. I felt like OPRAH! Agent Round for YOU, and YOU, and YOUUUUU! No, I'm totally kidding. I felt like an overheated chump who had to pick between mint chocolate chip and cookie dough ice cream when it's obvious they're both equally delicious and satisfying flavors but to have both would surely mean trouble. To simplify, I mean that I DO NOT envy agents in the least bit. We only read a fraction (a stellar fraction, I might add) of what an agent may see in one day, and I was thiiiiis close to having a nervous breakdown. You see, I'm an indecisive person by nature and I hate the prospect of potentially hurting someone's having to choose only a small amount to move on was sort of stressful. I feel a renewed sense of respect and awe for literary agents, that's for sure. And now I understand why so many of them are Vodka and/or Scotch connoisseurs. ;)

Copil: In a word, HARROWING! There were so many good queries and stories, it was hard to pick only a handful. I have new respect for agents who do it on a regular basis. Personally, I was amazed at the consistently high quality of the entries. Perhaps it's because I've seen so many posts about bad queries, I was expecting at least SOME of the entries to be barely readable. Nope. Obviously the people who entered the contest have been taking Cupid's advice to heart!

Cristin: The most challenging thing for me was trying to separate the quality of a query from my personal level of interest in the story. Some queries were great but the subject didn't capture me, and others weren't as strong but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt because I really liked the idea of the story. It was hard, but for the purposes of this contest, I tried to be as objective as possible. Of course, this is a problem agents generally don't have, since they're free to only pick projects that appeal to them and pass on things that may be very well done but don't excite them. It reminded me again of how subjective this business is. Even with a great query and wonderful first pages, you still need to find an agent who really feels your material!

Karen: I have a new understanding and sympathy for agents. I read great queries with mediocre pages, or vice versa. Then I read some queries for a genre or story that I'd never imagine myself being interested in, but the author won me over with a great hook and strong writing. One thing that frustrated me was when I read a fabulous query and sample, but the word count was WAY off. If the word count is much too short or much too long then I worried the story must be underdeveloped or way too wordy. The YA entries definitely dominated the contest. That just shows how tough the competition is for YA writers. Your story really has to stand out in you're querying a YA project. As much as I love paranormal creatures and magic, it didn't take long for most of those queries to start blurring together.

Now it's your turn! One lucky commenter will win the ARC or title of their choice from the YA Confidential vault! To enter, simply answer Today's Question in the comments section. Make sure you leave us your email address (so we can get in touch with the winner!).

Today's question:

Could you read slush for a living?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

May's "The Writer's Voice" Contest Info

“The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Monica B.W. of Love YA, and Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.). We’re basing it on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four of us will serve as coaches and select projects for our teams based on their queries and first pages.

Here’s the timeline:

May 3
Everyone submits their entries
May 3-10
We select our team members from “The Writer’s Voice” Blogfest
May 10-17
We coach our team members, helping them polish their entries
May 17
We post our team members’ entries on our blogs
May 21
Agents vote for their favorites


To enter, your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the following genres:

Adult Fantasy
Adult Science Fiction
Adult Romance
YA fiction (all subgenres)
MG fiction (all subgenres)


We’ll accept entries in two time slots. The first submission window will open at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, May 3, and will close once we receive 75 entries. The second submission window will open at 9:00 p.m. EDT on the same day and will close once we receive another 75 entries.

We’ll accept submissions via one of Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets, which we’ll post on all four of our blogs on May 3. Once you sign up for the blogfest, you’ll post YOUR QUERY and THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript on your blog. Then you’ll send your query, first 250 words, and A LINK TO YOUR BLOG POST in the body of an e-mail to TheWritersVoiceContest(at)gmail(dot)com, with your blogfest number, title, and genre in the subject line.

In summary, you must follow these three steps to enter:

1. Sign up for the blogfest during one of the submission windows listed above.
2. Post your query and the first 250 words of your manuscript on your blog.
3. Send your query, first 250 words, and a link to your blog post to TheWritersVoiceContest(at)gmail(dot)com, with your blogfest number, title, and genre in the subject line.


We’re building our teams via “The Writer’s Voice” Blogfest, so YOU MUST HAVE A BLOG TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CONTEST. We don’t care if you’ve had it for five years or five minutes; we just want to be able to fight over you in public. :)

We coaches will review the entries by e-mail, but when we find one we want, we’ll leave a comment on your post that says something like, “I want you!” If more than one of us wants you on her team, you’ll have to pick which coach you want to work with.


We’ll select our 10 team members by May 10, then spend the next week helping them put a final polish on their entries. You won’t have to take all of our suggestions, of course; we just want to help you make your entry the best that it can be before the agents get a look at it.


On May 17, we’ll post our team members’ queries and first pages on our blogs so that the agents can review them. Here are the 8 awesome agents who’ll be voting on your entries:

Louise Fury of L. Perkins Agency
Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency
Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency
Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency
Taylor Martindale of Full Circle Literary
Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc.
Roseanne Wells of Marianne Strong Literary Agency

The agents will vote for their favorites on May 21. Each vote will count as a partial or full request depending on how many votes the entry receives. If an entry receives 1 or 2 votes, those votes will count as partial requests. If an entry receives 3 or more votes, those votes will count as full requests.

Voting will stay open for twenty-four hours, at which point we’ll determine which coach’s team received the most votes. That coach will win bragging rights for time immemorial, and everyone who received requests will be able to submit their materials to all the agents who voted for them.

So get those queries and first pages polished up, then meet us back here on Thursday, May 3, at either 9:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m. EDT. We can’t wait to read your entries! (And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.)